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Classic Shell Scripting Paperback – May 1, 2005
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About the Author
Arnold Robbins, an Atlanta native, is a professional programmer and technical author. He has worked with Unix systems since 1980, when he was introduced to a PDP-11 running a version of Sixth Edition Unix. He has been a heavy AWK user since 1987, when he became involved with gawk, the GNU project's version of AWK. As a member of the POSIX 1003.2 balloting group, he helped shape the POSIX standard for AWK. He is currently the maintainer of gawk and its documentation. He is also coauthor of the sixth edition of O'Reilly's Learning the vi Editor. Since late 1997, he and his family have been living happily in Israel.
Nelson Beebe is a long time Unix user and system administrator, and has helped for years on Usenet newsgroups.
Top Customer Reviews
Hidden Commands that Unlock the Power of Unix
By Arnold Robbins, Nelson H.F. Beebe
First Edition May 2005
558 pages, $34.95
I found this to be quite a useful book for learning more about Unix/Linux shell scripting. I would consider this one to be an intermediate level text, and complete beginners might be better served by a more simplified book. There are quite a bit of in-depth details included, and many very nice examples and code snippets. Like all O'Reilly books, it is well organized and formatted, and clearly written.
The book opens with a brief history of Unix and how important the shell (and scripting) is to it. There are some comparisons with other programming languages, and why it is sometimes preferable to use a script versus a compiled program. The very basics of how scripts are written and used are also mentioned here, and beginners may want to refer to an additional book for more of the basic instructions.
The next few chapters cover mostly text processing with scripts, including searching, sorting, printing, extracting, and counting methods. Good examples are used, including the use of regular expressions and pipes to increase the power of your scripts. Following this, there are several chapters on more advanced scripting, including how to use variables, loops, functions, standard I/O, redirection, wildcards, using "awk", and working with external files. Extensive example code is provided throughout.
The remaining chapters of the book get into more advanced subjects such as database manipulation, process control, and increasing the security of scripts. Portability and shells other than bash are also discussed.Read more ›
The authors provide a lot of interesting and useful information that is difficult to find in other books. They devoted Ch 5 to piping and in 5.4 "Word List" they discuss famous Doug McIlroy alternative solution to Donald Knuth program of creating the list of the n most-frequent words, with counts of their frequency of occurrence, sorted by descending count from an arbitrary text file.
The authors discuss many Unix tools that are used with shell (Unix toolbox). They provide a very good (but too brief) discussion of grep and find. Discussion of xargs (which is usually a sign on a good book on scripting) includes /dev/null trick, but unfortunately they do not mention an option -0n with which this trick makes the most sense.
One of the best chapters of the book is Ch. 13 devoted to process control. Also good is Chapter 11 that provides a solution to pretty complex and practically important for many system administrators task of merging passwd files in Unix. It provides a perfect insight into solving real sysadmins problems using AWK and shell.
Shortcomings are few. in "5.2. Structured Data for the Web" the authors should probably use AWK instead of SED. Also XML processing generally requires using a lexical analyzer, not regular expressions. Therefore a tag list example would be better converted to something simpler, for example generating C-tags for vi.
The Good: Robbins and Beebe have created a pedagogically sound book which contains tables, fascinating digressions, sidebars (with major options on tools, along with caveats), an annotated bibliography, as well as a glossary. The book can be read straight through, since each chapter builds on the preceding ones, but the aforementioned resources are especially handy when using this book as a reference. Were it not for the tables and sidebars it would be difficult to look up things like how to set the field separator in different tools (-t in sort, -d in cut, -F in awk) or how to ensure case-insensitivity (-i in grep, -f in sort). The topics the authors cover throughout the book are interesting, but the real meat is in chapters 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, which discuss regular expressions, sed, awk (Robbins is the maintainer of gawk and also the co-author/author of books on awk), control flow, command evaluation, and file manipulation. Most of the other chapters are applications of the topics introduced up to that point, and serve to drive home the lessons already learned (though there are pleasant exceptions to this pattern, e.g. the section on crontab in ch. 13, or the material on the Unix filesystem in Appendix B). The writing is generally relaxed and at times borderline silly, e.g. "exit 42 #Return the answer to the ultimate question" or "root) nasty stuff here #Danger Will Robinson, danger!".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
These older Linux books are always useful. When something works it works. Great book although dry.Published 6 months ago by christopher
I don't know how else to express my unhappiness that the
table of contents of this book is NOT listed in the Kindle
preview? Read more
Awesome book! Learned a ton, I'm able to automate my system way more than I was previously. Definitely recommend !Published 14 months ago by Reeko